Friday, April 30, 2010

Making The Melrose Family Sourdough Starter

We decided to make our own sourdough bread starter. After Pam, Greg and I had been to our artisan breadmaking course we felt we were well equipped and knowledgable to make our own bread. However, as it turns out, there is a point where you just cant read books ro be shown anymore, you have to experiment yourself. With your oven, with your bowl, with your kneading style (I'm a potter so my bread is sometimes too heavy because I like to knead it!).

So here it is:
200g Wholewheat Organic Plain Flour
200ml lukewarm pristine river water (I used water from a creek in the Blue Mountains with a pristine catchment - you can use any mineral water that has no chlorine content).
1 tsp honey
1 bunch of organic grapes
1. Mix flour and water together till fully combined.
2. Lay in the bunch of grapes and cover with muslin cloth (a triangular bandage works well), and leave somewhere in a stable temperature, such as the kitchen pantry or benchtop.
3. Monitor for the next couple of days - when small bubbles form and the mixture appears a little frothy and has a strong sour smell, it is ready for more action.
4. Remove grapes and discard. Mix and then remove 1/4 of the mixture.
5. Add 100g flour, 100ml warm water and stir in well. Make sure you use the same flour.
Each day check on the starter and feed every 2-3 days with the same amounts of flour and water. After a week or so it should be ready. It should have a slightly sour smell but kind of pleasant rather than pungent. Store in fridge until ready to make bread. Feed intermittently approx once a week.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Salmon Five Ways

Salmon is my favourite type of fish.

Over the last few months I have cooked it many different ways, but also enjoying it raw as sashimi. I picked out five of my favourite ways to cook this wonderful red fish to display here.

Creamy Smoked Salmon Fettucini

250g smoked salmon
2 tbsp capers
bunch of parseley
1/2 cup peas blanched
2 eschallots
1 clove garlic
dash of white wine (I used Brokenwood's 2009 Semillion, also to serve)
250ml lite sour cream
salt and pepper

1. Put good quality or homemade fettucini on to boil.
2. Meanwhile, saute eschallots in 1 tbsp olive oil till softened, then add garlic, salt and pepper
3. Once garlic is soft (not browned), deglaze pan with white wine
4. Add blanched peas and sour cream, stir to make a sauce
5. Add sauce, salmon, and parseley to drained pasta and serve immediately!
Serves 2
Salmon seared with dukkah
2x250g Salmon fillets
1/2 cup Rachels Homemade Dukkah (or store bought dukkah)
1 egg
salt and pepper

1. Put rice on to cook
2. Wash salmon steaks and pat dry. Brush lightly with egg and cover with dukkah.
3. Place in a hot, lightly oiled non-stick pan for 2 mintues each side then 10 minutes uncovered in a 180 degree oven
4. Serve with stir fried asian greens with chilli and jasmine rice.
Serves 2
Salmon on a soupy bed of Quinoa and vegetables

2x 250g salmon fillets
1 cup white 'pearl' quinoa
1 carrot
1 bunch choy sum
1 bunch asparagus
2 teaspoons massell vegetable stock
1 small clove garlic finely chopped
100g water chestnuts
salt and pepper
1. Sear Salmon steaks for 2 minutes each side then 10 minutes in a 180 degree oven.
2. Meanwhile, add to 1 litre of boiling water the remaining ingredients. Simmer until the Quinoa is done (approx 10 minutes).
Serves 2

Sticky Tamari Salmon with Ginger and Honey

2x 250g Salmon steaks
100ml tamari
juice and zest of 1 lime
2 tbsp honey
1 large red chilli, finely chopped
1 large clove garlic, crushed
1 tbsp finely chopped ginger
1 tsp sesame oil
1. Combine all ingredients in a casserole dish 1 hour prior to cooking.
2. Put rice on to cook
3. Place salmon on grilling tray and bake in oven with grill on at 180 degrees, basting after 10 minutes with remaining sauce, then continue cooking (approx 10 more minutes) till golden. Salmon is cooked 'just done' when you can see very small white bubbly ooze coming out of the sides of the fillet.
4. Serve with rice and fresh green salad
Serves 2

Seared sagey Salmon on pea mash with BBQ octopus
2x 250g salmon fillets
4x small octopus
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp rice bran oil
1 bunch sage
2 potatoes, quartered
1 cup green peas
1 tbsp milk
salt and pepper
parsley to garnish
1. Add potatoes to boiling water with a pinch of salt and cook till tender
2. Lower peas into the boiling water with a sieve and cook for 2 minutes, drain and set aside
3. Sear salmon on each side in a non-stick pan for 2-3 minutes each side, then approx 10 minutes in a 180 degree oven.
4. Flash-fry the octopus in the same pan with 2 tbsp rice bran oil, salt and pepper for 5 minutes.
5. Mash the potato and peas together with the milk and 1 tbsp butter. Season to taste and place on each plate with the salmon lying on top.
6. Melt 1 tbsp butter in a pan and add the sage leaves, cook till crispy and serve over the salmon, with the ocotpus alongside.

Serves 2

Monday, April 12, 2010

Quinoa and Pomegranate Jeweled Salad

Pomegranates have gorgeous little red seeds that are like rubys with their transparent jewel-like flesh. They go really well in grainy salads such as this Quinoa salad.

Extracting the pomegranate seeds

The jewels

The salad
2 cups cooked red organic Quinoa
1/2 cup roasted pepitas
1/2 cup roasted sunflower seeds
handful of raw cashews
handful of raw almonds
1 cup pomegranate seeds
Method: toss all together and serve as a grainy side to seafood.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Seafood Lunch on the Balcony

Mum and Gary

My Uncle Gary came over and brought with him an amazing array of seafood fresh from the markets. Crab, Prawns, snapper and Barramundi. We shelled the prawns, cracked the crabs and put the fish (whole) in foil with lemon, olive oil, salt and pepper on the BBQ.

Above: the delicate crab

Cracking the crab

Shelled prawns
Gary is just as fast as Mark Stewart shelling prawns in three fast moves.

The Snapper

The cooked Snapper
I also made a salad and an Oregano and Sunflower Batard to go with the seafood lunch.

Oregano and Sunflower Batard

I made this Batard to go with the light and fresh seafood lunch my Uncle Gary put on for us. He brought amazing seafood: Crab, Prawns, Barramundi and Snapper.

Batard is the French word for the English "bastard". In both languages, these words refer to "something of irregular, inferior, or dubious origin." Batard (emphasis on the -tard) refers to an inferior baguette, typically half the length and many times the width of a classic baguette. (Traditional baguettes are about 2 inches in diameter and anywhere from 15 to 40 inches in length.) The long slender shape of a baguette maximizes the crust to bread ratio, but requires more time and labor to achieve than its squat batard cousin.

What I like about the Batard is that it keeps moist for longer and is great for sandwiches. It still has a great crust and doesnt dry out after you slice it to serve on the table for a long lunch.
1 tsp powdered yeast
400-425g wholemeal organic plain flour
300ml warm water
Small handful sunflower seeds
Pinch of oregano
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp Salt
1 tsp honey

In a cup mix the yeast with the water and honey. Let rest till bubbling - 5mins
Put half the flour in a bowl and add the yeast mixture. Mix to combine then add rest of the flour and salt.
Turn dough out onto a floured workbench and knead (dusting with extra wholemeal or semolina flour if neccesary) for 10 minutes, incorporating the sunflower seeds.
Shape the dough into a round and place covered in a warm place until doubled in size.

Turn out onto bench and knead lightly then shape into a round by folding the edges into the centre and turning clockwise until all edges are folded in. Turn dough over and, with palms facing upwards, cup either side of the dough and slide hands opposite directions; stretching the surface of the dough and pushing the sides further underwards (see demo photos here).
Place on a floured baking tray and let prove for 10 minutes covered.
bake in a preheated 200C oven for 25-35 minutes until brown and sounding hollow when tapped.
Spray surface with water and sprinkle salt and oregano over top.

The bread went will with prawns because it was a chewy crunchy contrast to the lemon-dressed, light flesh.